Kokomo families struggle to find financial assistance following tornado

KOKOMO, Ind. - Finding help after a storm isn’t as easy as you’d expect. Families in Kokomo are struggling to find financial assistance after last week’s tornado.

Community support has been incredible, with supplies pouring in to a donation site at the Kokomo GM plant. But what the tornado victims need now is financial assistance. Rebuilding their lives isn’t cheap and for some, finding that help isn’t as easy as they’d hoped.

“Dresser that had my boys’ clothes, that got wet and where the water drizzled down into it, the clothes, it was bad,” said Kokomo tornado victim, Larinda Arnette.

For some, their homes were leveled by the Kokomo tornado. For others, like Arnette, it’s damage to the inside, “Moldy clothes, moldy bed, dressers, they don’t see that,” she said.

Arnette came to the Red Cross in an attempt to get help. With no renters insurance, she now needs to replace her kids’ wardrobes which were ruined by a leaking roof and water damage.

“Today I was given $500,” she said.

Arnette has it easier than others though. Some homes that were badly damaged have been deemed destroyed and residents that were living in them are being given assistance by the American Red Cross. But other homes, with less obvious damage, were not deemed destroyed, but what you can’t see from the outside is the severe water damage on the inside. Residents living in those homes aren’t being given any assistance from the Red Cross.

“This is more than water damage. We actually just went into her child’s room and threw everything that belongs to her child away,” said tornado victim, Alexandria Ward.

Structures still stand, but inside many of the Garden Square apartments exists a different story. Residents are having to replace their wardrobes, furniture, and appliances, often times, without any financial assistance.

“Churches are really helping out but there are so many other people that need help as well so,” said Ward.

“We’ve been offering assistance for the last couple of days while working with these families to help them craft their recovery plans,” said Kristina Chapman, the District Director for the American Red Cross.

The Red Cross is offering what they can, to the neediest families. State and federal agencies will likely need to step in to help. That’s a process that takes time and time, is something many in Kokomo don’t have.

“In here, the light fixtures are leaking through the roof and it’s warping the paint off the walls here,” said Ward.

The Indiana Department of Homeland Security finished its initial assessment of storm damage Wednesday but the process to get additional state financial assistance will take at least a few more days.

That said, many victims are relying on organizations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army and the United Way. All those organizations have disaster relief funds set up for Kokomo, you can donate online or in person.